No ‘Talibanisation of India’: Supreme Court of India

Posted Apr 2, 2009 by Subhabrata Das
Indian Supreme Court has rejected the plea of a Muslim student seeking permission to sport beard in a convent school. The apex court said it would not allow “Talibanisation” of this country.
Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India
On Monday, Supreme Court of India reportedly dismissed the plea of a Muslim student from Madhya Pradesh that he should be permitted to sport beard in his convent school. The petitioner, Mohammad Salim, is a student of Nirmala Convent Higher Secondary School, a government-recognized minority institution which maintains a regulation requiring students to be clean-shaven.
Justice Markandeya Katju speaking for a bench headed by Justice Raveendran said: "We don't want to have Talibans in the country. Tomorrow a girl student may come and say that she wants to wear a burqa, can we allow it?"
Justice Katju stressed that people should strike a balance between rights and personal beliefs without overstretching the secularism.
Earlier, Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissed the same petition of Salim and later he challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court saying in a secular country like India every citizen should have the right to follow his religious principles and the school authority cannot restrain him from doing so.
Salim’s counsel Justice (retired) B A Khan tried to establish the petition by saying that sporting beard is an indispensable part of Islam. He also said Article 25 of the Indian Constitution guarantees protection to Salim to pursue his religious practice. Khan argued that it is a clear discrimination on part of the school to force Salim to be clean shaven while Sikh community members were allowed to keep a beard and sport a turban. However, Justice Katju seemed dissatisfied with Khan’s argument and quipped "But you (Khan) don't sport a beard?"
Court said the Article 30 of the Constitution has provided a set of rules and rights to the minority institution and the same cannot be breached by any person. "If there are rules you have to be. You can't say that I will not wear a uniform I will only a burqa," the court observed.
While talking to the petitioner Justice Katju said: "You can join some other institution if you do not want to observe the rules. But you can't ask the school to change the rules for you.”